A father in Blanchester, Ohio was arrested and charged with child endangerment after his eight-year-old son skipped church.
According to reports, eight-year-old Justin Williamson chose not to board a Woodville Baptist Church van with his siblings and instead decided to play outside without informing his father.
“My kids run in the house in the living room here and tell me, ‘Hey, Dad, the church van’s here. We’re leaving. We’re going on to church,’ ” Jeffrey Williamson, Justin’s father, told WCPO 9.
Justin then reportedly took a half-mile walk down the road to go to the Family Dollar where he was approached by Blanchester police. Officers allege Justin was lost and did not know his way home, a claim Justin’s father vehemently denies.
“That’s definitely totally, totally untrue,” Williamson said. “He knows his way around this whole neighborhood right here.”
After bringing Justin back home, police began questioning Williamson.
“I told the cop he goes out in the neighborhood and plays every day with all the other kids,” Williamson said. “There’s a million kids around here that play. I know the parents. The parents know me.”
As his other children returned in the church van, Williamson was suddenly placed in handcuffs.
“The next thing you know, he comes up to me and he says, ‘You’re under arrest.’ My kids start crying their eyes out wondering why I’m getting arrested,” Williamson said.
Not only was Williamson fired from his job after the story ran front page in the local paper, but his children now constantly fear he may be taken away again.
“Every time that we leave in our car or drive down the street or something like that, every time they see a cop in Blanchester, they freak out and say, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, are they going to arrest you?’ ” Williamson said.
Williamson is expected in Clinton County Municipal Court on July 15 where he says he will fight the charges against him.
“It’s ridiculous to me that I was arrested for this,” Williamson said.
Local residents are currently debating if the arrest was justified, with a majority siding with the father. Activities once considered normal childhood behavior have now begun prompting police action.
In 2012, a Texas mother was also arrested and jailed on child endangerment charges after allowing her children to ride scooters outside her home. Police claimed the children were in danger without parental supervision.